Huntington Beach, CA / 2015-07-05

After a slightly late night, I expected to wake early to start working from home this week and not have to take a full vacation week again.  Weston and Lila actually beat me to it and I took the kids downstairs for the morning while Brooke slept for a bit.  I worked, while they played, had breakfast and watched TV.  The morning quickly moved along for all of us while I continued to work and Brooke walked with the kids down to Trader Joe’s (nice that it is only a 5 minute walk away) to pick up a few random things.  After returning and getting the kids ready, she prepared a large lunch for us all of Meatloaf, green beans, mac and cheese, fruit and mashed potatoes.  This was another great meal.  We weren’t sure if we were just missing home cooked meals, or if Trader Joe’s has better food than we are used to.  This was to be our main meal of the day as we planned on being out for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

We left after lunch to head into Orange County.  Our first stop was at the Huntington Beach Central Park which hosts the Library, open acreage and our destination, the Adventure Playground yelp_icon.

Entrance to Adventure Playground

What an awesome place for kids to explore and get dirty!  After a small entrance fee ($3 per child), we were given instructions for the area and then set free to explore.  It wasn’t a large area, maybe 3 acres in total, but included a rope bridge over a small pond/lake and rafts on the lake for the kids to pole themselves around.

Also, a mudslide opened from time to time to let the kids get especially dirty.

In the back, there were tools (hammer, nails and saws), along with some left over wood pieces for the kids to put together whatever they could create.  The nails were almost like currency; your entrance provided everyone with 3 nails, and you could earn more by returning bent/used nails or finding pieces of trash.  Emily zeroed in on earning more nails, and thanks to some families leaving as well, we were able to collect enough nails to put together her bench that she built out of random pieces of wood.

Weston had been asleep when we arrived, and not overly eager to participate, but after a short time of watching the girls play, he dove right in and did everything the park offered.  He really got into the area and was jumping around in joy before we left!

The park closed at 4 PM, which gave us only 1.5 hours to play.  We wished for a little bit more time, but this was still a good amount of time here.  As we departed, we noticed a large collection of shoes (tennis shoes were required to play in the area) and quickly realized that we did not have to dirty up the shoes our kids had worn in, but instead could have borrowed shoes like at the bowling alley.  Oh well, next time.  My goal now is to try and convince my parents to open one of these in their backyard!

We did our best to clean and dry off the kids while changing them in the car (this thing has been through it all with us) and then head to our next stop, Huntington Beach!  We drove to the ocean front and saw the expansive beach before us.

Huntington Beach Pier

This was wider than beaches in Florida and went on for miles in either direction.  It was covered by umbrellas, tents and volleyball courts.  We walked all the way down near the water so that the sand was better to build and play in for the kids.  The water was very rough and the winds were probably near 30 MPH.  If this was the case in Florida, the sand would have been whipping up to belt us, but this was not the case here.  While the temperature was in the mid 70’s, the ocean breeze made it feel quite colder.  The kids played in the sand and only dared to dip their toes in the water (avg water temp in July is only 67 degrees!).

Huntington Beach (it was crowded!)

We watched the lifeguard crew bring everyone who was out past waist deep back in as the waves picked up, except for the surfers who were well past the break near the pier.  Tired, somewhat cold and now increasingly hungry, we left the beach to find dinner.

Our intention was to find somewhere local and awesome to try.  We were leaning toward a place called 25 degrees (a burger joint), but would have to get it to go in our current state of dress and sandiness.  Brooke and I had eaten at this restaurant on our previous trip to California 4 years ago.  She was pregnant with Weston then, so I guess he had been there before too!

After some quick surveying, we realized we were in need of something much easier and ended up at our old stalwart, Chick-Fil-A, which did not disappoint.  After taking our time at dinner and walking through Target, we made the almost hour drive back to Studio City through downtown, first driving past Brooke’s favorite celebrity’s house again!  Another great day in the books and looking forward what tomorrow would bring.

This is day 15 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016.  Make sure to check out the entire trip!

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